Posted by | September 24, 2010 17:35 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Politics Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

John Boehner

As enthusiastic as the Republican base is at the prospect of a GOP takeover of the House this November, one would think GOP candidates would be proud to have the future Speaker of the House appearing with them in their districts. Alas, this seems not to be the case.

Rumors have been circulating for some time that Minority Leader Boehner has been surreptitiously attending fundraisers around the country. These appearances are not being announced in advance, allowing Mr. Boehner, and the candidates for whom he’s hustling, to avoid press interaction. On a handful of occasions, however, word has gotten out. Always after the fact, of course, but it at least indicates the rumor has some merit.

On August 16th, Boehner appeared in Minnesota’s 1st District on behalf of Randy Dremmer. It was an invitation-only event, allowing no press coverage. On August 31st, Leader Boehner sneaked into Democratic incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s North Dakota district to raise funds for Rick Berg. A few days later, Rep. Boehner was spotted outside an Omaha hotel, where it was discovered he had helped to bring in over $100,000 for Rep. Lee Terry (R- NE2).

Democrat Tom White, who is running against Terry, said he believed Terry did not want to be linked to Boehner and the GOP’s policies.

“Boehner raised money for Lee Terry under cover of darkness because, during his decade in Congress, Terry has reliably supported his party leaders in adding trillions to the deficit’’ and trying to privatize Social Security, said Ian Russell, White’s campaign manager.

It has been suggested that Rep. Boehner is following the pattern of so many in the GOP this year and avoiding tough questions, but this argument doesn’t really hold up with a party leader. Boehner is constantly talking to the press. This decision has to be coming from the candidates themselves. In previous election cycles, Mr. Boehner was very visible stumping for GOP candidates. What’s different this year? The Tea Party.

The reality is that while the Tea Party brings enormous energy to the Republican Party this year, they’re still not the ones bringing the cash. For those big money donors, John Boehner and his cozy relationships with lobbyists is still quite attractive. Boehner has struggled, though, in gaining support among the Tea Party faction, where many consider him a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only).

In fact, we are currently seeing an increasing amount of talk second-guessing whether John Boehner will even be named Speaker if Republicans retake the House this November. The Wall Street Journal quotes Rep. Michele Bachmann, ostensible Queen of the Tea Party, refusing to commit to supporting Leader Boehner:

Michele Bachmann, the Republican Minnesota congresswoman and informal leader of the House tea-party movement, similarly said she didn’t want to “speculate” on who might be the next speaker until Republicans regain power. “The next speaker of the House needs to be a constitutional conservative who has a wide open ear to the pleas of the American people,” she said. [WSJ]

For Republicans taking on Democratic incumbents and relying heavily on Tea Party-inspired turnout, such as Dremmer and Berg, this may be a natural decision. No one’s ever going to accuse the GOP of transparency in campaign finance.

Rep. Lee Terry, for his part, may be choosing to avoid being seen with Boehner for fear that the Minority Leader’s recent bad publicity (drinking, cushy relationships with lobbyists, and even a rumored affair with a lobbyist) will reignite the memory of his own indiscretions.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.